‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Film Review

Grade: A-

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Poster

After all the flak Mel Gibson has been getting for his drunk angry outbursts including Anti-Semitic and racial insults, it is finally a relief to see him back in the director’s chair; one of the few times he has tried to redeem himself as an actor was with the Jodie Foster directed drama, ‘The Beaver’, where he played a family man using a Beaver hand puppet as a way of communicating with his estranged family. It was a good movie, but there was something dark and dull about it that caused it to be a bit of a letdown. It looks like Gibson has nowhere to go, but back behind the camera; cross in his hand and a prayer in his heart that he can truly gain celebrity status again in the form of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’.

I haven’t seen many movies he directed, but when I was in high school, my community church showed me (and many other Christians who came along) ‘The Passion of the Christ’. It was truly one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. A lot of faith-based movies aren’t as good, but what made that movie special was every moment; the story, the performances, and how raw and brutal it was. Gibson proved to me that he can direct. He does it once again with this war drama based on a true story.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is the true story of a Christian combat medic named Desmond Doss, who ended up bringing 75 wounded soldiers from the Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa to safety, and became a hero without carrying a gun; a choice he made because of his extreme faith, which caused most people to think he was nuts, yet eventually complied to. The way Andrew Garfield portrayed Doss in this movie could have been annoying, from the way his voice sounded. I have to say that he stayed in character the whole way through and will most likely be nominated for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ when Oscar Season goes underway.

The same could be said for Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte, a nurse who ends up being Doss’ wife; Vince Vaughn as the no-nonsense Sergeant Howell, who comes off as an over-the-top Sergeant Hartman from ‘Full Metal Jacket’; and Hugo Weaving as Doss’ abusive alcoholic father Tom Doss, who also served in the war before he did and was left emotionally and mentally affected by it. They all did great and might end up getting some Supporting Actor/Actress nominations this year.

Gibson just might end up getting a Best Director nomination for sure, but I wasn’t impressed with the direction as I was with its cinematography; the way the film was shot made it look old and classic like it was filmed in the 60’s or 70’s. The scope and scale of the mountain these soldiers climbed on was amazing and eye-popping.

When ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ gets into the 15-minute mark, the story stops to a halt and slows down, making it boring and a bit uninteresting. However, once we reach Okinawa with these soldiers, we are immersed into ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on steroids. The action is nonstop and the makeup-heavy war sequences are intense. The thing about 75% of this movie is that it rarely stops to take a breath and only catches that fresh air when necessary. What most of this movie told me was that war is brutal and traumatizing, and even though I’ve never stepped on the battlefield, I can tell that this may be an accurate representation of war. (Whoever disagrees with my assumption can educate me below.) I can also guarantee that there will never be another war movie like this one and actually might be the war movie everyone needs to see.

 

 

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